What It Means To Have a Customer-Centric Enablement Strategy
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Sales enablement and customer centricity fit like a hand in a glove. Customer centricity is an effective method of standing out from the competition and calls for organizations to put the customer at the center of all decisions when delivering products, services, or experiences. Enablement equips sellers to connect more meaningfully with their customers by providing the information, tools, and resources necessary to win more deals, drive more customer engagement, and ultimately impact the bottom line.
“If you’re not putting the customer at the center of everything that you do, what you’re missing out on is actually selling to a person, which is more important than ever before,” said Nieka Mamczak, senior manager of customer success enablement at Stack Overflow.
With a new year ahead, there are three core ways enablement can build its strategy to be even more customer-centric: equipping sales teams to be seen as trusted partners, leveraging managers to drive adoption and retention, and leading with empathy to understand the customer and their challenges. While the way that sales organizations approach customer centricity is constantly evolving, there are some key elements to consider when building an enablement strategy that reflects that customer-centric journey.
Below, learn what it means to create an enablement strategy that not only puts the customer first but sets up the entire revenue organization for success by connecting more deeply with customers and developing longer-lasting relationships.
Equip Sales Teams To Be Trusted Advisors
When building out any enablement program, it can be useful to consider how reps may use skills and knowledge in real-life conversations with their customers. In a digital-first selling environment, understanding how a customer may react to certain product information or anticipating their questions regarding their specific needs is crucial in standing out from the competition.
“We build enablement programs based on our learner personas,” said Mamczak. “Our learner personas are typically internal people, but we should always be thinking about the learning person who benefits from all of the learning that’s to be done, which is the customer.”
Any size organization may run the risk of moving the customer through so many different hands throughout the journey that the customer may receive multiple types of information that can cause confusion. One of the most effective ways to rectify this type of scenario is to ensure every role in the revenue-facing organization understands how to speak to a customer and how to leverage the product or service in a way that puts their needs front and center.
“I think it’s really important to teach everyone to communicate with the customer,” said Mamczak. “Overall, yes, we all should be educating our customers at any time, and if we’re not training our entire revenue organization to do so at certain layers, then what we’re missing is the customer experience.”
Enablement can help sales teams become trusted advisors to their customers. Becoming a trusted advisor takes time and effort. Enablement practitioners can help reps become more adept at asking open-ended questions to learn more about their customer’s needs. Buyers are looking for a solution that helps alleviates challenges specific to their business and industry. When reps can provide valuable insight or relevant content that speaks directly to those challenges, it can build confidence and trust that ultimately deepens the customer relationship.
“I remember learning as a salesperson the concept of give and get,” said Mamczak. “When you do give-get with your customer relationship, what is it? It’s not just taking their money. It’s giving them knowledge, and it’s them giving you knowledge back, and then you go back and forth like playing tennis. I think that’s really important to remember as you are thinking about content and resources and materials.”
Understanding how to help reps shift from just being another voice in the crowd to becoming that trusted partner can make all the difference in closing a deal or retaining a customer. Enablement can help identify the core skills reps need to apply the right behavior for the right scenario.
“When a company is small at the beginning, you may have product-led growth at a certain point, and when you start growing, you’re going to move to more of a sales-led growth,” said Roopal Shah, vice president of global enablement at Benchling. “At that point, the customer is going to be expecting thought leadership.”
Especially when it comes to complex enterprise sales, the customer may look to the expertise of their account executive or manager for insight into how other customers are leveraging their product or service.
“Many of us make buying decisions now based on the experience that we have than just the product itself,” said Amy Weil, senior director of GTM enablement design and delivery at Zendesk.
Leveraging Sales Managers to Drive Adoption
Managers can be the difference between going along with the status quo and making lasting behavioral changes among their sales reps. Reinforcement of skills and training is key to ensuring customer-centricity is at the heart of every conversation or sales activity.
“Unlocking managers as a catalyst is this phrase that we like to use a lot which is about how we get our managers to be an extension of what we do and to coach our people better,” said Weil. “Because without that, if their manager isn’t telling them that what we just taught them matters, then why would they think that it does? [Managers] need to be the ones to continue to coach to those skills and to reinforce.”
For example, suppose enablement is rolling out a training program on navigating the customer journey. For Shah, this recently happened in her organization, and one of the new skills being taught was how reps could create mutual success plans. Her enablement team brought in managers to garner feedback and solicit help in teaching aspects of delivering that plan, like objection handling.
“Having them do some of that collective brainstorming is fantastic because we’re now getting adoption on this new tool that we rolled out,” said Shah.
Leading With Empathy To Understand the Customer
Leading with empathy is essential to make customer centricity a key value in any enablement strategy. Without empathy, salespeople wouldn’t be able to connect meaningfully with customers and understand their pain points. It can help earn trust and build confidence among sellers and their customers to find solutions tailored to their needs.
“How do we think about leading with empathy and approaching the customer in a way that will help them reach the outcomes they need to get toward?” said Weil. “A lot of it is just ensuring that we’re able to prioritize and effectively make that time for sales skills training.”
By focusing on the customer and their journey, enablement teams can better equip sales reps to have the conversations needed to help them overcome challenges with their customers and help them find the right solution.
“I think it’s important for us as enablement professionals to be empathetic to our selling teams and what they’re up against, and then to teach our selling teams to be empathetic to the customer and to really help them understand the business challenges that our customers are up against,” said Weil.
When enablement teams focus on customer centricity, it provides ample opportunity to closely align their strategies to the relationship between seller and customer. By putting the customer at the forefront, organizations can better anticipate the wants, needs, and concerns of their audiences. Customers are the lifeblood of any business, regardless of size or industry. When enablement teams can position their programs to reps with the customer in mind, it can help sales teams invest in developing deeper and more valuable relationships for the future.